Mark Davison at the Cisco One Africa Summit, Legends Resort – In his keynote address to about 250 partners and customers, Cisco’s vice-president for Africa, David Meads, reaffirmed the importance of the channel to the company and the key role it will play in the future as the digitisation of the African continent continues apace.
“I want to start my presentation today with a thank-you,” Meads says. “A thank-you to you, our partners for your commitment and loyalty. Today, you account for 48% of Cisco’s business in Africa and, between you, there are more than 6 000 certifications.

“There is a huge amount of capacity within this team,” he adds.

Meads says that while many African countries have been quick to take up technology to drive growth and development, this is about to accelerate as governments realise the importance of connecting their cities, their citizens and with neighbouring states.

“There is a transformation that is about to happen across our continent and the question for us is how we capture this,” Meads says. “We are connecting cities and countries across Africa across the Internet and we are entering one of the most exciting eras in terms of job creation and development throughout the continent.

“Everyone talks about the emergence of new competition and how to drive different strategies,” Meads says. “Our opportunity is to help these organisations capture these new opportunities that are emerging.”

Meads says that to address the new opportunities presented by the Internet of Everything – which is estimated will be valued at around $19-trillion over the next 10 years – partners have to change their more traditional ways of thinking when it comes to dealing with customers.

“We have to change the conversation we are having with our clients to less equipment and more to the business opportunity and the outcome the customer is looking for,” Meads says. “We have to build vertical knowledge that covers not just IT, but other areas of the business such as marketing, HR and the executives. TO do that we have to be relevant and talk about how our solutions can drive new revenue streams.

“It is less about talking technology and more and more about understanding business requirements, positioning solutions and being accountable for delivering the outcome to the customer [that he expects],” Meads adds.